Amy Lawrence talks about life as a military wife
“You go from being married and having a family then suddenly they are gone”
The much-anticipated Military Wives film has finally been released in cinemas, but what is it really like to be a military wife?
We speak to Amy Lawrence who knows only too well what it’s like to be married to a man in the Forces.
Just like the women featured in the film, Amy saw her husband Trooper Phillip Lawrence deployed to Afghanistan on numerous occasions. Along with her young daughter Jessica, they had no choice but to get used to him being away.
Tragically, Amy lost her husband on 27th July 2009. Trooper Lawrence’s convoy was struck out by an IED overnight while on tour in Afghanistan.
For Amy and Jess, who was just eight months old when her daddy was killed, the last 12 years have been incredibly hard learning to live without him. For Jessica in particular, who is now 11 years old, growing up without any memories of her dad has caused an immense amount of frustration and anger.
Over the years both Amy and Jess have adapted to life without Phil, finding an immense amount of solace in each other and Scotty’s Little Soldiers.
Amy and Phil met in September 2006. Amy explains: “We met just out drinking but a couple of months later he went to Afghanistan on his first tour, so we just stayed friends. He came back at the beginning of 2007 and we got more serious and decided to get married in February 2008, in Norwich. He was 19 and I was 21.”
The newlyweds had Jess in November 2008 just five months before Phil was deployed again to Afghanistan. Phil’s final deployment to Afghanistan was in July 2009, but he never made it home. On the evening of 27th July 2009 his convoy was struck by an IED bomb killing him instantly.
“I went into shock when I was told.” Amy said, “Jess was eight months old. I didn’t know what to say or do or how to react, but for some reason I knew I needed to get home and take the medals off Phil’s uniform before they took it away. He’d told me that.
“You go from being married and having a family and making decisions together, and then suddenly that person’s gone, and you don’t know which way to turn, where you’re going to live. It’s changed us an awful lot.”
As Jessica has grown up, Amy explains that she’s really struggled with her emotions, she said: “Jess gets frustrated because she can’t remember her daddy and she’s only got a few pictures of him with her. She only knows what people tell her of him. She gets angry that everyone has memories of her dad and she doesn’t have any.
“It’s little things like going to parents evening without both parents there, and when other children have their daddies visit who are firemen and policemen and she wants her daddy to go in as a soldier.”
Amy adds: “Phil and I had only been together three years before he was killed, and it took me four or five years to get my head straight and make sure Jess was still happy. Phil’s friends have been great, she idolises them. I had a tattoo for the first anniversary: angel wings and a wedding band on my forearm. As Jess gets older, we tend to do something together like go to Chester zoo, because Phil was from Birkenhead and he liked going there when he was growing up.”
Amy turned to Scotty’s Little Soldiers in 2011. One of the charity’s first members, Jess has grown up with Scotty’s by her side, being a constant reminder that she’s not alone.
Amy said: “We’ve started making happy memories through Scotty’s Little Soldiers. Jess has been a member since 2011 and her face lights up when she sees the Scotty’s sticker on a letter or parcel in the post for her.
“For her it’s also knowing that there are other children who know exactly how she’s feeling, she’s made some great friends over the years which has helped build her confidence. They all know what she’s going through and they can all support one another. It’s the little things that make such a big difference to us.
“Jess has had some fantastic experiences thanks to Scotty’s. We were both invited to Norwich City Football Club and Jess walked on to the pitch before kick off with the match ball. This was a big moment for her, walking out in front of thousands of people but she thoroughly enjoyed it. She also got to meet other Scotty members of all different ages, which was really nice. We love Scotty’s and it’s not just Jess, it’s helped me a lot as well because I’ve met a lot of friends who are also widows and they really understand.”
Jessica has also been part of the charity’s Abeona project, a new initiative in conjunction with Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services’ team whereby bereaved Armed Forces children and their schools will receive the support they need.
Amy explained: “Jessica is one of the first Scotty’s members to be involved in the project and it has been integral in helping Jessica secure her place in the High School she wanted. For Jessica, this will make a huge difference, she will have an education plan in place and every school she goes to, the teachers will understand more about what she’s been through, her anxiety, dates she’s likely to get more anxious and the signs to watch out for. This wouldn’t have been possible without Scotty’s.”
For more information on the Abeona project visit